Reaching our 75th Anniversary: A History of AGPA 1992-2016

ROBERT H. KLEIN, PH.D., ABPP, CGP, DLFAGPA

BONNIE J. BUCHELE, PH.D., ABPP, CGP, DLFAGPA

The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) experienced remarkable change and growth between 1992 and 2017, a reflection of a rapidly changing world. AGPA’s capacity to adapt and advance simultaneously was impacted by changes in various complex, interrelated systems: economic, social, academic, political, technological, and professional. 

Economically, we saw the dot.com bubble burst, the stock market crash and recover, employment fluctuate, and globalization increase. Socially, we experienced involvement in several wars, affecting large populations of veterans and their families. Domestically we struggled with racism, sexism, classism, and ageism. Academically, we addressed healthcare issues of equal access, quality, accountability, and costs. Politically, we’ve seen alternating shifts in power from from one party to another, with wide changes in legislation along the way. Technologically, we faced vastly expanded automation; development of sophisticated computer systems and artificial intelligence, increasing concerns about privacy, security, and cybercrime, and the explosion of the Internet and social media.

Professionally, we witnessed the rise of managed care and the call for evidence-based treatment; recognition of the importance of treating the psychological consequences of disaster and trauma; and more active support in response to public health crises.

Many of these broad systemic changes found expression within AGPA. If one were to identify the most important change for AGPA during this period, it might be that AGPA has become less internally focused and is more aware of and responsive to this rapidly changing external world. Throughout this whirlwind timeframe, however, AGPA maintained its fundamental commitment to support the growth and development of high-quality, clinically effective group psychotherapy.

 

Early in this period, AGPA found itself increasingly concerned about survival. Its leadership, standing on the boundary between the organization and the outside world, realized, that to remain viable, AGPA must operate as an open system (vonBertalonffy, 1972). Functioning as a relatively closed system meant heightening the risks that AGPA and group psychotherapy might become irrelevant to the world of mental health care and continue to decrease in size, atrophy, and even die. On the other hand, to function as an excessively open system without necessary boundaries and controls could lead to dilution of the effectiveness of the modality and the organization, especially if it meant lowering training and practice standards. Pressure exerted about external needs, demands for accountability, goals for the profession itself, and concomitant necessary organizational structures could have been at odds with one another.

It had become apparent to the leadership that a balance must be struck. AGPA must be flexible and permeable, allowing transactions across boundaries to enable adaptation, growth, and change. But the effects of those transactions would need monitoring to preserve the field of group psychotherapy and provide sustenance for those practicing it.

In our opinion, AGPA’s evolution can be characterized best by looking at it through three naturally occurring eras: pre-9/11, 9/11, and post-9/11.  We will take a look at the organization during those eras by focusing on seven critical facets/dimensions: (1) mission(s); (2) structure and administration; (3) jewels in the crown; (4) membership; (5) financial health; (6) organizational tensions and family dynamics; and (7) relationships with the outside world.

 

The Era of Pre-9/11: 1992-9/11/2001

1. Mission(s)

Early in this period, AGPA was primarily focused internally on the implementation of its mission by establishing and maintaining a place for group therapy as a treatment modality in the world of mental health. Its aim was to: (1) provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and publishing opportunities for members, and make publications and information available to them; (2) provide training, and establish and maintain high standards for ethical and professional practice; and (3) encourage research in group psychotherapy. The organization was healthy and stable, although the healthcare industry and the delivery of its services had already begun to undergo change, and AGPA, feeling the nudges, was attempting to be proactive in a variety of ways. As the rate of change in the external world was accelerating, awareness of the importance of remaining attuned and relevant regarding the outside world grew.

2. Structure and Administration

The AGPA community evolved into a tripartite structure, each with its own leadership and Board of Directors (see Table 1). Together they comprised the Tri-Organizational Board of Directors and were collectively known as AGPA. Two segments of the organization, AGPA and the Group Psychotherapy Foundation (now known as the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health), were already in existence in 1992. The National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists (the Registry, now known as the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists), the third segment, was created in 1993. External conditions evoked growing concerns about the need for articulated practice standards, dialogue with third-party payers about reimbursement, and the need for regulation. The leadership believed that if AGPA did not do this regulation ourselves, then managed care, the insurance industry, the government or consumer groups would do it for us.

 

The Registry’s mission was to advance group psychotherapy by establishing and promoting standards for professional group practice to benefit the public.  This involved defining a basic minimal standard of training for group psychotherapists, while simultaneously providing a credential (the Certified Group Psychotherapist [CGP]) that would define the qualified group therapist. The Founder’s Edition (1995) defined and showcased CGPs as clinical mental health professionals who had met nationally accepted criteria of education, training, and experience in group psychotherapy. Many large third-party payers endorsed the Registry and used its CGP credential as a criterion for reimbursement, thereby facilitating group therapists receiving payment for their services. This was timely as the field of mental health was undergoing a change with fewer individuals privately paying group therapists who were largely in private practice juxtaposed against the concurrent entry and ascendancy of managed care and the insurance industry as third-party payers. This shift enhanced a decrease in the numbers of clinicians going into private practice and an increase in those employed by agencies.

In 1993, as AGPA began to computerize, Board meetings were held in person two or three times a year, preceded by distribution of preparatory materials via Federal Express.Remaining technologically abreast of developments, staff and members started using email (the CEO report was first written on a personal computer [PC] during this time). Talk and planning of a website got underway, with an eventual launch of www.agpa.org in the late 1990s. The processing of continuing education (CE) by staff in the office was growing laborious because each discipline and a growing number of states had differing CE requirements. It was essential that AGPA provide CE credits for all its members, who came from a wide variety of disciplines and geographical locations. Without this benefit, membership numbers and participation in the Annual Meeting would likely decrease. Members needed continuing education with accompanying credit for training and credentialing purposes so that they could continue to make a living as licensed practitioners. Likewise, decreasing AGPA’s two largest income sources (membership dues and Annual Meeting revenues) would have a huge impact on AGPA’s financial well-being.

Change did not come easily, and organizational tensions mounted as AGPA attempted to respond to a changing world while maintaining its identity. Some felt that establishing a minimal basic standard for training in the practice of group psychotherapy via the Registry would have an overall effect of lowering training standards, while others promoted establishing a generally accepted and minimal training standard as a way to fight the age-old myth that “anyone can run a group.” Organizational financial viability became a more pressing issue as trends of diminishing membership and somewhat unpredictable Annual Meeting attendance gradually emerged.

In the midst of these pressures, AGPA proactively decided to initiate a Strategic Planning process, which was first undertaken in 1990. At a later date (1997), AGPA started using an outside facilitator to help with the process. Thus Strategic Planning became an integral part of the governance structure and culture and provided a mechanism wherein change could be anticipated and plans then could be made to deal with it.3

3. Jewels in the Crown

AGPA has two esteemed, established endeavors that are subject to very little controversy regarding their high value by the membership—the AGPA Annual Meeting and (our publications, particularly) the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy (IJGP).

For this reason, we decided to call them the jewels in the crown. Consensus was that these two activities represent the best of AGPA. Another AGPA publication, The Group Circle, AGPA’s quarterly newsletter, was also regarded as a valued membership benefit. The Annual Meeting is often referred to as the “best” of all mental health professional meetings with its special mix of experiential (especially within the two-day Institute but also found sprinkled liberally throughout the entire meeting) and didactic learning, as well as a carefully crafted program with a wide variety of the best presenters. 

The AGPA Annual Meeting continued to be a jewel in the crown, with meetings held during this time in New York City, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Boston. The introduction of several format innovations, including poster presentations and early morning one-hour presentations, enabled more members to participate as presenters in the program. The Large Group (introduced in 1996) and the Masters’ Circle (introduced in 1997) have become standard features of the Annual Meeting. The variety of program offerings increased during this time, reflecting the broadening of AGPA’s purview and interest in various theoretical orientations. Pluralism, not dogma, was the order of the day.4

The difficulty in accurately predicting attendance at Annual Meetings seemed to be a function of different variables, including the particular site of the meeting, the number of AGPA members, the attractiveness and relevance of the program, the increased availability of online professional training and CE credits, and the broader state of the national economy which, at times, left mental health professionals with limited discretionary income.

The IJGP is the most respected of group journals; its early articles were primarily clinical, but in recent times research articles have been increasingly included.  This scholarly publication draws authors from a wide variety of backgrounds and countries.

The International Journal for Group Psychotherapy continued to be treasured by the AGPA membership. Journal content included discussions of combined psychopharmacology and group psychotherapy, treating different disorders in groups, stages of group development, community meetings, and various theoretical models for conducting group psychotherapy.  Special sections focused on topics such as anger and aggression in groups, the group-as-a-whole, group therapy and managed care, treating “difficult patients” in group, and group supervision of group psychotherapists.

4. Membership

Membership of AGPA reached an all-time high in 1996, totaling 4,298 individuals and 30 Affiliate Societies as members in the Affiliate Societies Assembly. Special Interest Groups (SIGs), begun in 1989, were becoming increasingly active and visible within the organization.  But, as noted, a declining membership trend began to be apparent during the late 1990s. Despite consistent positive reviews from attendees, the attendance at Annual Meetings also seemed to be declining, except when we met in a popular location. Much discussion ensued about the need to raise awareness regarding member benefits and the value of belonging to a professional organization. AGPA, like other mental health organizations, was feeling the effects of a trend among younger people who preferred participating online rather than joining organizations. In 2001 the GPF initiated a Donated Scholarship Program by awarding eight of them for attendance at the Annual Meeting, complimenting the Endowed Scholarship Program begun in 1985. Thus, the GPF proactively introduced young professionals from a range of diverse backgrounds to the Annual Meeting, managing the impact of a decreasing membership base of graying Baby Boomers.

5. Financial Health

Under the guidance of CEO, Marsha Block, CAE, CFRE, development of formal investment planning policies and procedures was undertaken.  A financial consultant was hired by the GPF in 1993 and, subsequently, an investment house in 1994. In 1993, financial health prevailed with an AGPA yearly budget of $900,000, but later in the 1990s, budgetary concerns had arisen associated with the decrease in revenue from membership dues and the unpredictable Annual Meeting registration, as noted earlier.

The levels of growth and complexity in the organization from 1992 to 2015 are clear. Both our revenue and expenses have more than doubled over the years, while our net assets have grown even more impressively: a whopping 266%, without even including our $4M+ condominium.

6. Organizational Tensions and Family Dynamics

Tensions mounted from 1993-1995 with the creation of the Registry and with a growing impetus to have AGPA become a broader membership organization, a proposal that was controversial.  In August 1995, a special Board meeting was called with a parliamentarian present to help contain the heated debates and allow for discussion to be constructive rather than divisive. Tensions continued, however, through the election of 1996 with an eventual resolution: AGPA became a membership organization, and the Registry more solidly established itself as a certifying body. Much of the underlying tension appeared to be political in nature, not mission-based. In fact, members often referred to AGPA as their “professional family,” having established longstanding friendships with one another and a strong allegiance to the organization as a whole. The strife was experienced as similar to the tensions that can arise in a family. The Waldorf-Astoria was experienced as a symbolic organizational home by many but, sadly, AGPA’s final Annual Meeting at the Waldorf took place in 1997, underscoring that “the times, they are a’changin’” (Dylan, 1964). On the other hand, this development was experienced by some as helpful in countering what they believed to be an “east coast-centric” and/or “elitist” attitude (meeting at the Waldorf) within the organization.  

7. Relationship with the External World

As the 1990s progressed, AGPA began looking externally.  The Registry, formed in 1993, became our mechanism to look outward and influence practice. The inevitable conflicts that came with the need for change imposed by the external world, including the insurance industry and an increasing regulatory climate, led to the question: How could we successfully chart our own course and maintain allegiance to our own values, yet remain attuned to changes in the world around us that might well affect our very form and existence?

AGPA served as a helpful container.  Divisiveness was kept at a minimum, and collaboration regarding our differences was constructive. Gradually, AGPA had become an umbrella organization representing increasing diversity. Our theoretical orientations broadened, and the general membership began to be comprised of more psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, nurses, and creative arts therapists, as we continued to welcome MDs. The number of women in leadership positions increased (see Table 1). The Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group was established in 1997-1998, another explicit statement that inclusiveness, rather than exclusivity, was an important AGPA value. (This SIG was later expanded and renamed the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues SIG.)

In retrospect it could be said that AGPA was able to use its own knowledge of group dynamics to manage its own struggles rather well.

AGPA became a member of the Mental Health Liaison Group in Washington, D.C., joining forces with other mental health organizations in attempting to influence Congress and other parts of the government.

Then, abruptly, AGPA turned outward with intensity.  The events of 9/11 rushed us into the world as we responded to the needs of victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., their families, and the country as a whole. One of the authors (BJB), was just ending her AGPA presidency, but quickly reversed her direction from slowing down to re-immersing herself in the affairs of the organization so that, via a powerful collaborative effort on the part of many people, a comprehensive plan quickly emerged to shape AGPA’s involvement.

 

The 9/11 Era (2001-2008)

The potential value of conducting group interventions to address problems of trauma, loss, grief, and community crisis for thousands of survivors and their families was readily apparent. AGPA recognized that as an organization of experts who worked with groups, we had a unique and significant contribution to make. Almost overnight, we moved from being a guild to becoming a public health resource. Individual members, local Affiliate Societies, particularly the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society (EGPS), and AGPA quickly began to work together.

Within the first six months following 9/11, AGPA became deeply involved on many different levels in the treatment and recovery effort:  We participated in direct service delivery; developed support systems for the helpers; and initiated a broad array of training programs for clinicians to learn about treating trauma. These initial steps taken by the organization have taken us on a journey that has lasted to this day.

1. Mission(s)

 

The mission of AGPA was suddenly and dramatically expanded beyond our traditional aims as we identified ourselves as a public health resource that could be called upon following large-scale disasters and trauma.

2. Structure and Administration

 

It soon became clear that broadening our mission would require modifications in our structure and administration.

We quickly established the Disaster Outreach Task Force (which later became the Community Outreach Task Force) to conduct and monitor this new area of involvement.  The Task Force was charged with determining points of delivery to the relief effort, monitoring credentials of group leaders, determining what training was needed, as well as what ongoing support services would be necessary for those doing frontline clinical work, education and training, and/or consultation. AGPA staff integrated and coordinated our efforts with those of other contributing individuals and organizations, while managing the practical, financial, and logistical operations.

A. Direct Service Delivery

Treatment of trauma in groups was new to the mental health community at that point. Most clinicians were relatively uninformed about large-scale trauma treatment, but there were experts among us who put their heads together to craft a response.  Fortunately, each of us had some familiarity with the treatment of traumatized individuals in group (Buchele & Buchele, 1985; Ganzarain & Buchele, 1988; Klein & Schermer, 2000). Direct service delivery required that group leaders, operating as private contractors, be licensed and insured mental health providers. Licensure and insurance in one’s own discipline were CGP requirements. With assistance from EGPS and other Affiliate Societies, AGPA compiled an extensive list of CGPs in the New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. areas, eager to be involved. All clinicians were provided consultation in their work. Co-leadership was encouraged. Finally, the leadership decided that this was far more than a volunteer effort in that it was a serious commitment to complete a complicated and demanding task to facilitate recovery by providing a service. Initially, a New York Times Company Foundation Grant provided funding so that group leaders could afford to leave their private offices to support the recovery initiative and be paid for their work. AGPA then sought additional grants to support these efforts.

AGPA began its work in the New York City area.  A comprehensive three-tiered intervention approach was designed to: (1) address the immediate mental health needs of survivors, witnesses, and first-responders and their families; (2) reach out to assist businesses, school systems, and religious and community organizations in the immediate geographic area; (3) identify and begin working with those likely to suffer from the longer-range, disguised, or delayed effects of trauma.

During a seven-year period, AGPA conducted more than 500 group interventions (significantly more than originally promised) that touched the lives of thousands of people.  They included both large and small group interventions, as well as individual sessions as needed. They ranged from single-session psychoeducational groups, to time-limited support groups, to ongoing time-extended service groups that continued for as long as five years. Participants included individuals and family members of survivors, witnesses, firemen, police officers, businesses, religious and community organizations, and school systems. AGPA was designated a First-Tier responder by the Office of the Mayor of New York City for its work following 9/11. AGPA was also recognized by the American Society of Association Executives with their 2005 Award of Excellence for its innovative work in citizenship and community service.

In the years immediately following 9/11, as disaster and trauma struck different areas of our country and the world around us, AGPA became involved in more relief and recovery efforts, including working with victims of school shootings, Hurricane Katrina, a tsunami in Southeast Asia, earthquakes in China, terrorist attacks in India, and traumatized combat veterans and their families.  AGPA’s voice was heard in discussions at the Rosalynn Carter Symposia for Mental Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) meetings, and subsequently in testimony before Congress on the treatment of returning veterans and their families. We chaired a coalition of New York City non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to address recovery from trauma, and explored further collaborations with other organizations, including the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Peter C. Alderman Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, and Voices of 9/11 among others. Over the years, we have maintained many of these collaborations.

B. Training for Mental Health Professionals 

Providing training that ensures we do no harm and offers the highest quality of care is an important component of our organizational mission. To augment the basic training that our CGPs already had in group psychotherapy, trauma training was provided so that all leaders would have at least minimal training in group trauma treatment. Eventually, AGPA conducted a more extensive series of free online trauma training seminars during 2002-2004 that proved to be extremely well subscribed, attracting more than 2,500 participants. This marked the first time that AGPA made successful use of distance learning as a large-scale off-site training modality.

C. Support System to Help the Helpers

 

AGPA recognized that, in addition to our own members, many frontline community agencies located throughout the New York and Washington, D.C. areas would be called upon to deliver direct clinical service to 9/11 survivors. This led AGPA to prioritize “helping the helpers,” since conducting trauma work would expose clinical practitioners to considerable emotional stress, including compassion fatigue, secondary traumatization, and vicarious traumatization (Herman, 1992; Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995; Allen, 2005). Hence, we provided both consultation and ongoing support groups for our own members, as well as for the clinical staffs of various public and private community agencies.

D. Further Development of Specialized Group Treatment of Trauma

 

Subsequent AGPA Annual Meetings featured numerous events and Special Institutes focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of trauma. In May 2003, together with EGPS, AGPA co-sponsored a Training Conference on “Group Approaches for the Psychological Effects of Terrorist Disasters” devoted to evidence-based approaches.

The cornerstone for the training efforts was the compilation of an AGPA book that consisted of 10 training modules commissioned by the September 11th Fund, Group Interventions for the Treatment of Psychological Trauma (Buchele & Spitz, 2004), which addressed group interventions for adults, adolescents and children following trauma.  Evidence-based approaches were reviewed, along with the unique aspects of groups in the treatment of trauma, countertransference effects, longer-term follow up work, masked trauma reactions, and bereavement. These training modules were also incorporated into the Annual Meeting programs and subsequently were made available for staff training in community agencies.

The 2004 AGPA Annual Meeting featured a special “conference within a conference,” which featured initial protocols for group interventions following disaster for specific populations, including children, adolescents and families, uniform service personnel, survivors and witnesses, helpers and service delivery workers, those working with school systems, or those providing crisis intervention for organizations. Over the next several years, these protocols were reviewed by population-specific experts in the field and broadened for use with other similar populations. Plans were implemented for their use in training and dissemination. A final version of these population-specific protocols, Group Interventions for Disaster Preparedness and Response, was published in 2008 (Klein & Phillips, 2008).

In 2006, AGPA hosted a commemorative event for the fifth anniversary of 9/11, attended by people representing foundations, social service agencies, school programs, hospitals, interfaith organizations, various New York City programs, plus those AGPA members who had participated in disaster relief and recovery work. A group discussion on lessons learned and their implications for the future was moderated by Jack Rosenthal, President of The New York Times Company Foundation, the very same foundation that had awarded AGPA its first grant to support our initial efforts following 9/11.

Strategic Planning during the 9/11 era assumed increasing importance for AGPA.  Maintaining our balance and overall priorities was essential. This process helped insure that the tail did not wag the dog. Our commitment of time, energy, and resources to trauma work, plus our success in obtaining substantial external funding early in this era, needed to be kept in perspective. It constituted only one part of our mission. Most importantly, we continued to be a membership organization with fundamental commitments to education, training, and research in group psychotherapy.

3. Jewels in the Crown

 

Both the AGPA Annual Meeting and the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy remained the “jewels in the crown” of our organization.

AGPA Annual Meetings remained the pre-eminent education and training sessions for group psychotherapists.  By attending Annual Meetings one could learn about the latest developments in the field of group psychotherapy, network and share experiences with interested colleagues, and continue to expand one’s skills and expertise as a practitioner. Annual Meetings during the 9/11 era clearly reflected our extensive involvement with trauma work following disasters, although the bulk of the sessions continued to be devoted to our more traditional aims. Programming featured an outstanding array of invited speakers, institutes, workshops, and open sessions. Content areas included new theoretical developments, cutting-edge research, explorations of technique, different group leadership models, and applications of group approaches with different patient populations. Explorations of psychodynamic, as well as systems-centered, cognitive-behavioral, and relational, approaches could all be found in the program.5

During this period two important format changes were made in the Annual Meeting. First, the Community Meeting began to recognize efforts and achievements from all sectors of the organization. Second, a formal Memorial Service was introduced in 2004, becoming a standard feature to remember and honor those AGPA members who have died during the past year. Both events continue to evoke a deep, shared sense of connection and community.

As noted earlier, Annual Meeting attendance remained variable and somewhat unpredictable. Attendance in New Orleans in 2003 was 727 (our second year in a row meeting in that city to minimize administrative work during the immediate 9/11 recovery effort), but reached a 25-year high of 1,141 in New York just one year later. If generating a robust income stream were the sole concern then selection of a conference site would be relatively easy and straightforward. But other factors entered into consideration, especially with regard to our collective wish to be perceived and function as a national organization. By varying the site each year, the cost and convenience of attendance for members living in different areas was shared. Also, Affiliate Societies in different parts of the country were given a chance to host our Annual Meetings on a rotating basis.

In addition, AGPA began to move toward a model of year-round learning where opportunities expanded beyond the boundaries of the Annual Meeting.  Not only did audiotapes of Annual Meeting events continue to be available after the meetings, but follow-up sessions were becoming a formal part of Annual Meeting presentations. Most importantly, with encouragement from the National Registry for Certified Group Psychotherapists, AGPA was making more extensive use of online learning. Seminars, panel discussions, and online group experiences were becoming available throughout the year. These offerings, often free or of minimal cost, were open to both AGPA members and non-members. The ready availability of continuing education credits for participation made them an even more desirable bargain.

The expansion of learning opportunities paved the way for AGPA to develop an Educational Product Line that featured a variety of specialized curricula. The Registry offered curricula for courses on: Ethics (MacNair-Semands, 2005); Principles of Group Psychotherapy (Weber, 2006); Training in Group Psychotherapy Supervision (Bernard & Spitz, 2006); CORE Battery Revisited (Burlingame et al., 2006); Psychoeducational Group Interventions (Brown, 2007); and Group Psychotherapy for Children (Sheppard, 2008). The trauma training modules (Buchele & Spitz, 2004) and population-specific intervention models (Klein & Phillips, 2008) also were published by AGPA during this period.

The International Journal of Group Psychotherapy remained the premier journal in the field throughout the 9/11 era. Quarterly issues focused on topics such as contemporary group psychotherapy and research, women in groups, eroticism and passion in group psychotherapy, group therapists’ shame, treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, grief and bereavement in groups, the relative efficacy of individual versus group psychotherapy, and working with children. Special issues appeared on a variety of topics, including termination, group therapist countertransference to trauma and traumatogenic situations, and ethical considerations in group psychotherapy. The size and diversity of the Editorial Committee was expanded. One excellent editor ended his term and another began. The Group Circle, expanded to include a Group Assets section about the Foundation, enjoyed continuing popularity as the organizational newsletter.

4. Membership

 

Membership numbers during the 9/11 era continued to decline. Membership reached a high of 4,298 in 1995-1996, but dropped 15 years later to a low of 2,131 in 2010-2011. The dream of establishing a membership base of 6,000 seemed unobtainable.

These data trends were consistent with those reported by other professional organizations. Most reported declining membership during this period. Were younger generations simply not joining organizations? Some sociologists suggested that we were beginning to experience the impact of the Gen-Xers, who have often been described as non-joiners (Putnam, 2000). 

A variety of important questions about membership began to emerge during this time period. Does paying membership dues give one access to valued services and benefits that are not available to non-members? Can we maintain a roster of paid members or will we become an educational organization on a fee-for-service basis? Were the costs of membership outweighing the benefits? Were membership-based organizations still viable?

AGPA was also becoming increasingly aware that our members tended to represent an aging, white, middle-class population. Could we find ways to engage our most senior members when they were no longer conducting groups, or when they retired? Could we maintain diversity and attract younger populations? These and related important questions were being actively debated. In 2008, AGPA conducted a Joint Board Leadership Training Session on cultural diversity to try to determine how to expand our constituency base and create a home in AGPA for a wider variety of mental health professionals.

During this period, there was yearly and substantial growth in the Group Psychotherapy Foundation’s Scholarship Program, which successfully introduced and educated many students to the value and importance of group psychotherapy. Scholarships to AGPA’s Annual Meeting were awarded to deserving participants on the basis of interest and need. By 2006, the Scholarship Program numbers were soaring. Soon there were more than 100 scholarship recipients each year. These new attendees brought considerable excitement, exuberance, enthusiasm and energy, along with lots of new ideas, challenges and dilemmas to our ranks.

The injection of new blood through the Group Foundation scholarships has proven to be quite valuable. Each year AGPA receives many letters of gratitude acknowledging how important and meaningful recipients have found their experiences with us to be. While this has added to our meetings’ diversity, energy, and numbers, it has also required increasing fund raising activities.  Donations to support the scholarship program have come primarily from AGPA members.

5. Financial Health

 

Throughout this era, achieving a balanced budget for AGPA and the Foundation remained a major priority. Decreasing membership had a significant impact on AGPA’s financial well-being. We were facing reduced revenue from dues and rising operating costs. But we were also embarking upon a new, expanded mission, involving increased activities as a public mental health resource. Fortunately, we secured external grant support in the form of foundation grants for most of our 9/11 efforts. AGPA received its first grant from the New York Times Company Foundation for $2 million in 2002. This led to our applying for and receiving additional grants. In 2004, with our expanded mission, we balanced our budget with grant acquisitions.

Our disaster outreach work was supported by, among others, The New York Times Company Foundation 9/11 Neediest Fund, the Time Warner Foundation, The Robin Hood Foundation, Project Liberty, The September 11th Fund, The September 11th Children’s Fund, The American Red Cross, Liberty Disaster Relief Fund, The Chevron Texaco Foundation, and the Langeloth Foundation. AGPA assembled a team of people to identify and contact potential funding sources, selecting only those funding organizations whose mission statements seemed compatible with our own. We developed and submitted a number of successful grant proposals, AGPA obtained 19 external grants totaling $5.7 million (Klein, Bernard, Thomas, Block, & Feirman, 2007), plus four Group Foundation Grants for more than $200,000 for a total of 23 grants for $5.9 million—no small feat, particularly given our level of organizational inexperience in such matters!

As we reached the close of the 9/11 era (2005-2008), new grant funding was largely unavailable. Efforts made to develop additional revenue streams met with limited success. Ultimately, AGPA had to reduce its commitment to serving as a direct public health service provider, and instead focus on disseminating and applying the trauma training modules and population-specific intervention protocols. The last grant we obtained from the Langeloth Foundation in 2004   supported these efforts through 2008. The Red Cross Disaster Relief Grant for our school program formally closed in 2007. To a significant extent, our contributions to other disaster relief and recovery work such as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, school shootings, and the earthquakes in China were underwritten by AGPA and its individual members, without external grant support.

It is important to note that, especially during the latter part of this period, AGPA had to make many difficult financial decisions. Pursuing multiple important objectives while simultaneously experiencing declines in our investment portfolio almost led us to the brink of financial disaster. When one of us (RHK) became AGPA President in 2004, the organization was facing a nearly $300,000 potential deficit for that year. Furthermore, between accomplishing our goals and an economic recession, we had been depleting our reserves at a rate of approximately $200,000 per year. If things did not change, the leadership agreed we could be completely out of business in just a few short years! Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and a satisfactory plan was constructed that restored financial order.

During the 9/11 era, AGPA, in collaboration with the Group Psychotherapy Foundation, made another important financial decision. Namely, the GPF agreed to pay down the mortgage principal on the AGPA headquarters. This decision was reached in 2003 after carefully considering the mortgage and maintenance costs associated with the New York City headquarters versus the costs and desirability of moving elsewhere. At that time, the remaining mortgage was  $630,000. Eliminating the mortgage would significantly reduce AGPA’s yearly operating expenses.

The Capital Campaign, begun by GPF in 2003, raised $1.3 million with the dream of paying off the mortgage on the headquarters. The campaign was successfully completed and the mortgage was retired in 2005. In addition, the campaign also generated additional funding to help underwrite the costs of the Annual Meetings, thereby relieving an underlying source of budget deficits.

6. Organizational Tensions and Family Dynamics

 

Throughout the 9/11 era, organizational tensions centered around the expansion of our mission to include our role as a public mental health resource. Managing and paying for that enterprise without losing sight of our traditional focus remained crucial. Discussions often hinged on whether AGPA leadership should be looking more inside or more outside. Was our responsibility to attend more fully to the needs and interests of our members, or was it to engage the larger society where we might make a substantial contribution? Could we do both well and sustain the effort required? By 2007, AGPA office staff were being stretched to the limit with the convergence of too many activities with too few resources. Preserving an acceptable balance was complicated by the fact that much of the post-disaster trauma work was occurring on the east coast, inadvertently reinforcing the impression, as noted earlier, of some AGPA members that AGPA was east coast-centric.

Simultaneously, the field of psychotherapy was coming under fire. Questions were being raised at a national level by the federal government, consumers, and insurance companies as to whether psychotherapy was evidence-based (e.g., Anderson, 2006; Goodheart, Kazdin & Sternberg, 2006; Norcross & Wampold, 2011). Demands were being expressed for increased accountability (Burlingame, Straus & Joyce, 2013). Our professional identity and financial livelihood were being threatened. Even though few people could accurately define what evidence-based treatment actually meant or what counted as legitimate evidence, it became clear during this period that providing clinical services that were not evidence-based was not acceptable. Much of the accepted research demonstrating therapeutic efficacy had relied upon randomized controlled trials with diagnostically homogeneous groups using cognitive-behavioral and/or manualized short-term treatment interventions. For the most part, this was not what AGPA members were doing clinically. Most of our members conducted longer-term, heterogeneous, psychodynamically oriented groups. Few controlled studies, however, demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of long-term, psychodynamically oriented group psychotherapy. Hence, many of our members were understandably anxious about the implications of these discussions.

In response to this growing level of concern, AGPA established the Science to Service Task Force in 2005 as an effort to bridge the gap between clinical practice and research (Klein, 2008). A blue-ribbon panel was created to review and synthesize the literature. By 2008, this Task Force provided a comprehensive, integrated set of widely heralded Clinical Practice Guidelines (Bernard et al., 2008) for group psychotherapy. Subsequent translation into multiple languages permitted their international use and attested to their popularity and efficacy. A more complete review of this effort can be found in a special issue of the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy (2008) and elsewhere (Leszcz & Kobos, 2010), as well as on the AGPA website.

7. Relationships with the Outside World

 

AGPA’s relationships with the outside world during the 9/11 era increased dramatically as we entered into the public mental health arena and responded to the changing climate of healthcare accountability. Efforts of AGPA’s Affiliate Societies were critical in this regard. We collaborated with other organizations and contacted funding sources to support our disaster relief and recovery work. Our trauma training modules and population-specific group intervention models were used by multiple agencies and branches of local and state government.  Significant contacts were made with SAMHSA in New Orleans and with State Mental Health Departments in Louisiana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine. We invited other individuals and organizations doing disaster and recovery work to attend our Annual Meetings. In addition, we co-sponsored conferences and anniversary events in New York City, worked with the Veterans’ Administration and testified before Congress about the need for treatment of returning veterans. In 2008, AGPA joined the Human Services Council in New York City to network with local agencies, remain a visible resource, and identify potential opportunities to provide training, consultation, and supplemental service where needed.

Also in 2008, AGPA obtained its first training contract with a group of 14 Methadone Maintenance Clinics in New England. This contract resulted in a series of both in-person and online in-service training events. These activities began to expand the visibility and range of AGPA as a training/consultation resource within the mental health community.

On an international level, our trauma work led to developing relationships with survivors in Southeast Asia after a tsunami and with indigenous mental health workers in India following terrorist attacks. We also maintained extended contact with psychologists in China following earthquakes there. Multiple training sessions, lectures, seminars, group experiences, and consultations were provided by AGPA and individual AGPA members.

 

The Post-9/11 Era (2009-2016)

 

1. Mission(s)

 

Early in the post-9/11 era, AGPA continued to pursue its expanded education and training mission. Online education, development of new curricula, and community outreach continued to flourish. Opening the Online Continuing Education Center in 2009 took center stage. An online learning library was established with hundreds of hours of continuing education (CE) events. New telephonic CE events were offered and stored on the website. Development of new curricula continued with production of Adolescent Group Psychotherapy (Pojman, 2009), Substance Abuse and Addictions (Flores & Brook, 2011), and A Group Therapist’s Guide to Process Addictions (Korshak, Nickow, & Straus, 2015). The goal of year-round learning opportunities was fast becoming a reality.

Training contracts became a primary feature of Community Outreach Task Force activities. Work with the international community and at home continued. AGPA provided group training using Skype for mental health workers in Mumbai following terrorist attacks. Group training based upon the Principles of Group Psychotherapy course continued in China with follow-up supervision. A trauma training event was co-sponsored at an International Association for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (IAGP) Congress in Rome for survivors of the earthquake in Italy. Assistance efforts were directed toward the Haitian community after it was hit by a hurricane.

At home, Community Outreach responded to Hurricane Sandy, the Sandy Hook shootings, fires in Colorado, the Boston Marathon bombings, a Denver movie shooting, a Sikh temple attack in Illinois, the Virginia Navy Yard shootings, Austin and Colorado floods, and Oklahoma tornadoes. Through the Mental Health Liaison Group, AGPA provided input to legislative bodies on proactive mental health actions to reduce instances of violence.

Agency training contracts were also increasing. Additional in-service training was provided to several clinics in New Jersey, Methadone Maintenance Agencies in Boston, the DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health, a Bergen County (New Jersey) School District, and Kaiser Walnut Creek in California. AGPA partnered with the New York State Psychological Association to provide another disaster training event.

Camp Galaxy, begun in 2008, provided much needed recovery services building resilience each year for military families who had to deal with deployment or loss of a family member. This annual program, provided in collaboration with the Department of Defense, has proved to be extremely well-regarded and successful. In 2012, AGPA received the New York Society of Association Executives Social Responsibility Award for the Camp Galaxy program.

AGPA’s ongoing commitment to promoting increased diversity and cultural sensitivity was underscored throughout this period. Leadership assumed an active role in this process. Not only were these values broadly embraced by the organization, but participation in diversity training was required for Institute faculty as of 2015, and for all Annual Meeting faculty, the AGPA Board of Director members, and AGPA Staff as of 2016 (Klein, 2016).

2. Structure and Administration

 

Early in the post-9/11 era, it became clear that AGPA was ready for reappraisal and refocusing. Too many activities with too few AGPA staff had been underway. Funding for existing programs remained an important issue. We were feeling spread too thin and were experiencing an identity crisis. Examining our tri-organizational names, clarifying our priorities, redefining our missions, and revisiting our organizational structure were all perceived as important and necessary activities. Each component of our organizational identity needed to be scrutinized.

Through Strategic Planning initiated in 2010, AGPA retained its name but adopted a new tagline, “Groups at Work: Connection, Education, Leadership.” The GPF changed its name to the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health, with the tagline, “Together We Can Change Lives.” The Registry became the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists. The mission statements and purposes of each tri-organizational component underwent revision. The organizations changed its logos, and in 2012, a consultant was engaged to guide AGPA through a massive website redevelopment project.

Planning for AGPA’s 75th Anniversary in 2017 became yet another important priority. By 2015, the process was well underway. Members were asked to record anniversary messages, commemorative publications were scheduled (including this history), and special event plans were made.

It is important to note here that a large part of AGPA’s success as an organization has been its capacity for self-examination, ability to adapt to changes in the environment, and its extraordinary potential for continuing growth and development. Strategic Planning has played a vital role in our success. But, beyond all else, we have been able to rely upon a steady and creative hand at the helm. Our CEO, Marsha Block, has provided that. In 2014, she celebrated her 40th year as CEO of AGPA. The continuity and guidance that she has provided is unparalleled in the world of not-for-profit corporations. Her dedicated and sustained tenure in this leadership role far exceeds that of any other CEO in the field. Few situations arise now that she has not seen before. Her management and financial skills are exceptional. Her ability to think strategically and creatively, her depth of knowledge about our organization and its history, and her talent at forming seamless and effective working partnerships with a constant cascade of volunteer leaders from within the organization, are all remarkable.

Indeed, Marsha Block, together with Angela Stephens (over 35 years with AGPA) and Diane Feirman (25 years with AGPA by the time of our 75th), have functioned as AGPA’s renewable energy sources for decades.

3. Jewels in the Crown

 

During the post-9/11 era, AGPA’s Annual Meeting continued to maintain its standard of excellence. Efforts were made to integrate the latest developments in theory and practice into the program, including advances in neurobiology, and attachment and relational models for group psychotherapy. More events focusing on evidence-based approaches to group psychotherapy were featured on the program as well. In 2010, a military track was created for the Annual Meeting, with invited presentations from the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.

The Scholarship Program flourished with more than 125 recipients in 2010, over 160 in 2013 and in excess of 200 in 2014.

Year-round learning was augmented through provision of 15 distance learning conferences in 2009. Our first online process group was introduced in 2010. However, it was becoming clear that the distance learning effort was encountering difficulties in the form of low participation numbers. In addition, the constant flow of marketing emails was annoying for some members. Increasing attention was required to try to find the right balance between topics, faculty, numbers of events, marketing, and audience interest. Some scaling back seemed to be in order and has been accomplished. Participation is now excellent, maxing out our teleconference capacity at almost every event.

By 2010, the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy was fully online. In 2013, an editorial shift took place. The arrival of another talented new Editor-in-Chief, plus the addition of new members to the Editorial Committee, again broadened our diversity and brought better balance with more researchers to review submissions. In 2015, the Journal’s contract with our former publisher, Guilford Press, expired. A new publisher, Taylor and Francis, was retained. Skillful negotiation of the new contract resulted in a $100,000 signing bonus, plus a nearly tripled annual income for AGPA. IJGP content continued to be broad and pan-theoretical. Special issues/sections, focusing on such topics as clinical practice guidelines, group interventions in college counseling centers, neurobiology and building interpersonal systems, and violence in America, remained an important bonus feature. Thus, the Journal continued to maintain its preeminence as the leading source of information for group psychotherapists. The Group Circle’s Editor pursued its carefully crafted format that touched upon timely issues in the field and featured both clinical and research matters, along with sections on consultation and Affiliate Society news.

However, while the Journal remained a vibrant jewel in the crown, and was now online as an income generating asset, there was increasing concern about its impact factor (Saha, Saint, & Christakis, 2003), a measure of how often articles published in the Journal are cited by others. In part, it was thought that our relatively low impact factor might be reflecting our tendency to publish more clinically relevant material as compared with more methodologically rigorous experimental work. More prominent, as well as younger aspiring authors might, therefore, be reluctant to publish with us unless their work reached a wider audience. The Editorial Committee is currently addressing this problem.

4. Membership

 

Concerns about shrinking membership have remained in the forefront during the post-9/11 era. This has been the case even though membership numbers had risen to their highest point in several years in 2014-2015. We have continued our attempts to broaden and diversify the membership base by promoting AGPA’s visibility in the field, strengthening recruiting efforts, making it easier and more attractive to join, and augmenting member benefits. All these efforts, however, have yielded limited success with much time and energy expended for meager returns. The downward trend in membership numbers has continued during this period despite the development over the years of multiple Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that have provided opportunities for members to pursue their particular interests at a grassroots level throughout the year. Discussion is underway about the longer-term implications of these trends for AGPA and whether we can remain a membership-based organization going forward.

5. Financial Health

 

As we entered into the post 9/11 period, our existing grants had expired and new grant opportunities were no longer available to support our outreach activities. On the other hand, we were moving forward with training contracts. In addition, attendance at Annual Meetings had remained relatively robust, and the Journal had become income-producing.

Two other important developments also occurred during this period and both had significant financial implications for AGPA. First, our investment portfolio recovered from the lows of 2007. In 2007, our investment portfolio, like that of many other organizations and individuals, had sustained major losses. The bubble burst and the stock market continued to fall as the banking and mortgage scandals broke across the United States. By 2013, however, our investment portfolio had fully recovered.

Second, the Foundation assumed an increasingly important role in supporting AGPA’s operations. To offset both grant and market losses during this period, the Foundation began to provide additional financial support for AGPA. The Scholarship Program continued to grow, reaching more than 200 recipients in 2015. More importantly, the Foundation raised $375,000 in 2014, a 25% increase from just three years prior. The Foundation had clearly become a major financial contributor to AGPA. Its role and importance to the organization grew significantly during this period.

6. Organizational Tensions and Family Dynamics

 

During the post-9/11 period, organizational tensions continued to surface in relation to the extent to which AGPA was focused on our role in the broader community versus our allegiance to the needs of our own members. Transitioning from our enormous reliance on outside grant funding while returning to our primary mission as an education/training/practice/research organization was managed well by the leadership. We remained actively involved in community outreach work but restored better balance to our operations. This was accomplished in large part through the process of an organizational makeover and modernization.

The goal of creating year-round learning opportunities was becoming a reality.  But so, too, were the inherent problems that accompanied that process. In addition, we were unable to make any meaningful inroads with third party payers. It was becoming clear that, without employing a lobbyist to effectively represent our interests, we would continue to have limited influence in Washington, D.C. Even if we were able to increase our lobbying efforts, we might well find that, like most other mental health professional organizations, we are being marginalized.

In the external world, emphasis on evidence-based care continued so that the accompanying tensions required attention. The Science to Service Task Force continued to pursue the mission of promoting better integration between clinical practice and research and bridging the gap between the two. Following publication of the Group Psychotherapy Clinical Practice Guidelines (Bernard et al., 2008), the Task Force mobilized its internal resources to address the evidentiary base for group psychotherapy. Its summary and synthesis of the available literature in the field supporting the fact that group psychotherapy is evidence-based can be found on the AGPA website (Barlow et al., 2015). The important role played by this Task Force was further underscored when it was asked to take responsibility for updating and developing new training curricula, a task formerly managed by the Certification Board.

7. Relationships with the Outside World

 

During this era, our strengthened relationships with the outside world were sustained except for our drastically reduced reliance on external grant funding. Many of the relationships and partnerships established during the 9/11 era persisted. Responding to disasters and trauma, marketing and disseminating our training materials, providing in-service trainings and maintaining outreach efforts with agency staffs, expanding our Scholarship Program, pushing for greater diversity, and broadening our efforts at membership recruitment, all continually took us outside of our own membership boundaries.

Also important to note has been our collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 49 and with the American Board of Professional Psychology to have group psychotherapy approved as an APA specialty. This considerable effort by psychologists, if successful, will constitute a major victory in our attempts to be recognized as a specific type of therapy requiring specialized training. In many ways, it constitutes a continuation of the work initiated by the Registry years ago when it introduced the idea of standards and levels of expertise in working with groups.

Unfortunately, our sphere of influence with some aspects of the external world, as measured by our relationships with managed care and Washington, D.C., has remained rather limited.

Of interest in this regard is the increased tension between AGPA and IAGP. This seems to be directly attributable to the Registry changing its name from the National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists to the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists. This expansion of its scope and domain largely in reaction to community outreach work and the need for educational standards in emerging countries would elicit a strong reaction from our international colleagues. The Certification Board and AGPA are continuing to work on strengthening our relationships with IAGP as well as with other national and international organizations.

The Future: Dilemmas, Dreams and Desires

 

In the course of this discussion of AGPA’s history from 1992-2016, we have touched upon a number of important concerns that will require further attention going forward. In the authors’ opinion, we view these as opportunities as we move into our future.

There is little doubt, for example, that AGPA will continue to operate in the world of insurance companies placing increasing demands upon professionals and professional organizations to research, develop, and provide evidence-based treatments. Where we go with our Community Outreach and Distance Learning programs, how we resolve tensions with international group organizations, what we do to increase the impact factor of our Journal, and determining how we can expand our influence with third party payers, consumers, the government, and the professional mental health community, including staff in agencies, hospitals, and public practice settings, all remain important issues to be addressed.

Of course, to address any of these issues will require us to sustain financial viability and continue to grow and adapt to the world in which we live. Here we want to highlight the importance of three critical issues: maintaining a balance between our internally and externally focused activities; attending to membership needs; and ensuring leadership succession and stability.

1. Maintaining Our Balance

 

Earlier we noted that to survive and prosper, AGPA, like all organizations, needs to remain an open system, with its leadership standing on the boundary between the organization and the world around it, able to look both inside at the needs and desires of its members and outside at the interests, opportunities, and demands of the external environment. Thus, AGPA needs to remain flexible and attuned to both internal and external changes. It must also preserve a balance in allocating its resources (time, money, energy). Arriving at a balance is an ongoing process, requiring continuous assessment and adjustment. Strategic Planning has provided a vehicle for us to do that and needs to be maintained going forward.

During the past 25 years, largely because of 9/11, we have witnessed that pendulum swinging in the direction of responding to the opportunities and demands of the world in which we live. Both the needs and funding were available. Going forward, it is important to remind ourselves of our fundamental mission, which is to make AGPA the primary source for education, learning, and research in the field of group psychotherapy. Whatever we choose to do in the future, it should be consistent with and guided by our core values (Klein, 2004). By maintaining this allegiance, we feel confident that AGPA will be able to continue to raise awareness about the value of group psychotherapy and solidify our reputation as a leader in this field, dedicated to healing patients and improving lives. We believe that AGPA should remain a diverse organization with recognized authority on all forms of group process and functioning. We need to remain the standard bearer for the field, the organization that strives to ensure that all group therapists are highly educated and trained throughout their careers. In addition to providing opportunities for lifelong learning, AGPA can also continue to create lifetime bonds. Connecting with others and recharging one’s batteries are essential for all of us.

2.  Membership

 

Throughout this entire 25-year period, AGPA, as other not-for-profit organizations, has witnessed a slow, but steady decrease in the number of members. The leadership continues to struggle with this challenge, though two developments have occurred that affect our situation in a positive way.

First, membership dues had always been one of the two primary income streams for the organization. Dues were critical in covering our direct and indirect program expenses, including payment of our mortgage. During the last 25 years, the Foundation has raised considerable monies leading to the retiring of AGPA’s mortgage on its headquarters. Those fundraising efforts have also supported AGPA in many different ways, including endowing specific events at the Annual Meeting, providing extensive scholarships which have increased the presence of younger people in AGPA, and funding research and other activities. Thus, the dependence on dues is somewhat less than earlier.

Second, membership is about community. That spirit of community is very important within AGPA’s culture to the point that it can even be considered a primary membership benefit. How a community is constructed and the concept of what a community is has undergone change with the impact of technology. Our growing SIGs, our Distance Learning opportunities, and our increasingly used listserv provide that community connection in between Annual Meetings.

As the leadership continues to wrestle with the diminishing numbers, consideration of how to incorporate the online aspects of community-building, maintenance, and growth will play a major role. Traditionally, we have depended heavily on face-to-face contact, but younger generations generally prefer connecting through their mobile devices and other online methods. As group therapists, we know that elimination of all in-person contact, that is, relying totally on technology, is unsatisfactory. However, since technology plays a significant role in how we relate to one another today, we will need to plan how the community can best blend these ways of being together, while sustaining the necessary revenue that comes from our Annual (face-to-face) Meeting.

3.  Succession

 

We have been very fortunate as an organization to have our CEO, Marsha Block, CAE, CFRE, with us for over 40 years. The longevity of our time with Angela Stephens, CAE, and Diane Feirman, CAE, is also noteworthy and a big asset. No one wants to think about what AGPA would be like without Marsha, or Angela, or Diane. To the leadership’s credit, much thinking and planning about succession is well underway. A comprehensive plan has been outlined to insure that smooth, thoughtful transitions can occur.

As we move into our next 25 years, our incorporation of Strategic Planning into AGPA culture will continue to afford us a tool for further additional planning to occur, and, given AGPA’s capacity to cope with reality, we know it will happen.

AGPA is about to celebrate its 75th Anniversary, a significant milestone for a not-for-profit organization. On the other hand, it may seem like a single grain in the sand of time when considered from the perspective of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe about 13.7 billion years ago. But for many of us, AGPA has been a tree of life, providing sustenance and renewal. As the old leaves drop away, may it continue to produce countless new vibrant ones.

 

References

 

Allen, J. (2005). Coping with trauma: Hope through understanding. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Anderson, N.B. (2006). American Psychological Association presidential task force on evidence-based practice. Washington, DC. American Psychologist, 61(4), 271-285. 

Barlow, S., Burlingame, G.M., Greene, L.R., Joyce, A., Kaklauskas, F., Kinley, J., Klein, R.H., Kobos, J.C., Leszcz, M., MacNair-Semands, R., Paquin, J.D., Tasca, G.A., Whittingham, M., & Feirman, D.(2015). Evidence-based practice in group psychotherapy  [American Group Psychotherapy Association Science to Service Task Force web document]. Retrieved from www.agpa.org/home/practice-resources/evidence-based-practice-in-group-psychotherapy.

Bernard, H., Burlingame, G., Flores, P., Greene, L., Joyce, A., Kobos, J., Leszcz, M., MacNair-Semands, R., Piper, W., Slocum McEneany, A., & Feirman, D. (2008). Clinical practice guidelines for group psychotherapy. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 58, 4, 455-542.

Bernard, H.S., & Spitz, H.I. (2006). Training in group psychotherapy supervision. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Brown, N. (2007).  Curriculum for psychoeducational groups. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association. 

Buchele, B., & Buchele, J. (1985). Legal and psychological issues in the use of expert testimony on rape trauma syndrome.  Washburn Law Journal, 25 (1), 26-42.  

Buchele, B., & Spitz, H. (Eds.) (2004). Group interventions for treatment of psychological trauma. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Burlingame, G., Joyce, A., MacNair Semands, R., MacKenzie, R., Ogrodniczuk, J., Strauss, B., & Taylor, S. (2006) CORE battery revisited: An assessment tool kit for promoting optimal group selection, process and outcome. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Burlingame, G., Strauss, B., & Joyce, A. (2013). Change mechanisms and effectiveness of small group treatments, In M.J. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin & Garfield’s Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change, 6th Ed. (pp. 640-689). New York: Wiley & Sons.

Burns, K. (2005). Personal communication

Carter, S., & Cox, A. "One 9/11 Tally: $3.3 Trillion".  Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/08/us/sept-11-reckoning/cost-graphic.html?_r=0 

Dylan, B. (1964). The times, they are a-changin’. On The times they are a-changin’ [Album]. New York: Columbia Records.

Eugene, G. (2006). The history and meaning of the journal impact factor. Journal of the American Medical Association. 295(1): 90-93. 

Flores, P.J., & Brook, D.W. (Eds.) (2011). Group psychotherapy approaches to addiction and substance abuse. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Ganzarain, R., & Buchele, B. (1988). Fugitives of incest: a perspective from psychoanalysis and groups. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

Goodheart, C.D., Kazdin, A., & Sternberg, R.J. (Eds.) (2006). Evidence-based psychotherapy: Where practice and research meet. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and Recovery: From domestic abuse to political terror. New York: Basic Books.  

Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (2004).  "How much did the September 11 terrorist attack cost America?" Retrieved from www.iags.org/costof911.html

Klein, R.H. (2004). At the core: How we steer our course. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 54, 134-156.

Klein, R.H. (2008). Toward evidence-based practices in group psychotherapy. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 58, 441-454.

Klein,R.H. (2016). Promoting diversity in AGPA. The Group Circle, Spring, 2016. 

Klein, R.H., Bernard, H.S., Thomas, N., Block, M., & Feirman, D. (2007). Reacting to a national mental health crisis: Developing the use of groups for disaster preparedness and response. In L. VandeCreek and J. Allen (Eds.). Innovations in clinical practice: Focus on Group, Couples & Family Therapy. New York: Professional Resources Press.

Klein, R.H., & Phillips, S.B. (Eds.) (2008). Public mental health service delivery protocols: Group interventions for disaster preparedness and response. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Klein, R.H., & Schermer, V.L. (Eds.) (2000). Group psychotherapy for psychological trauma. Madison, CT: Guilford Publications. 

Korshak, D.J., Nickow, M., & Straus, B. (2015).  A group therapist’s guide to process addictions. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Lambert, M.J. (Ed.) (2004). Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change. New York: Wiley.

Leszcz, M., & Kobos, J. (2008). Evidence-based group psychotherapy: Using AGPA’s practice guidelines to enhance clinical effectiveness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64, 1238-1260.

MacNair-Semands, R. (2005). Ethics in group psychotherapy. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Morgan, M.J. (Ed.) (2009). The impact of 9/11 on politics and war: The day that changed everything? (p. 222). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Norcross, J.C., & Wampold, B.E. (2011). Evidence-based therapy relationships: Research conclusions and clinical practices. Psychotherapy, 48(2), 98-102. 

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Pojman, A.P. (2009). Adolescent group psychotherapy: Method, madness and the basics. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

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Saha, S., Saint, S., & Christakis, D. (2003). Impact factor: A valid measure of journal quality? Journal of the Medical Library Association, 91, 42-46.

Scheidilinger, S., & Shamess, G. Fifty years of AGPA 1942-1992: An overview. Retrieved from www.agpa.org/home/about-us/agpa/50-year-history.

Sheppard, T.L. (2008). Group psychotherapy with children. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

The Committee on History (1971). A brief history of the American Group Psychotherapy Association 1943-1968. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 21, 406-435.

vonBertalonffy, L. (1972). General system theory. New York: George Braziller.

Weber, R. (2006). Principles of group psychotherapy. New York: American Group Psychotherapy Association.

 

Table 1. Tri-Partite Organizational Leadership

 Year

 AGPA

 IBCGP

 Group Foundation

1992-1994 Anne Alonso, PhD, CGP, DLFAGPA Sharon Cheeseman, LICSW, CGP, LFAGPA (1993-1996) Ruth Hochberg, PhD, CGP, DLFAGPA (1989-1993)
1994-1996 K. Roy McKenzie, MD, CGP, DFAGPA   John Price, PhD, LFAGPA (1993-1996)
1996-1998 Saul Tuttman, MD, PhD, DFAGPA Barry Helfmann, PsyD, CGP, DFAGPA (1996-2000) Anne Alonso, PhD, CGP, DLFAGPA (1996-1998)
1998-2000 David Hawkins, MD, CGP, DLFAGPA   Albert Reister, EdD, FAGPA (1998-2000)
2000-2002 Bonnie Buchele, PhD, CGP, DLFAGPA Jeanne Pasternak, LCSW, CGP, FAGPA (2000-2006) Isaiah Zimmerman, PhD, LFAGPA (2000)
2002-2004 Harold Bernard, PhD, ABPP, CGP, DLFAGPA   Patricia Barth, PhD, CGP, DLFAGPA (2000-2008)
2004-2006 Robert Klein, PhD, ABPP, CGP, DLFAGPA    
2006-2008 Elizabeth Knight, MSW, CGP, DFAGPA Sherrie Smith, LCSW-R, CGP, FAGPA (2006-2014)  
2008-2010 Connie Concannon, LCSW, CGP, DFAGPA   Lisa Magon, PhD, CGP, FAGPA (2008-2014)
2010-2012 Jeffrey Kleinberg, PhD, CGP, DFAGPA    
2012-2014 Kathleen Ulman, PhD, CGP, FAGPA    
2014-2016 Les Greene, PhD, CGP, LFAGPA Tony Sheppard, PsyD, CGP, FAGPA (2014-Present) Phyllis Cohen, PhD, PsyD, CGP, LFAGPA (2014-2016)
2016-2018 Eleanor Counselman, EdD, CGP, LFAGPA   Karen Travis, LCSW, BCD, CGP, FAGPA (2016-Present)

 

View the 25 Year History here.

View the 50 Year History here.

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